It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

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I totally live in the camp where Christmas carols are for all year singing enjoyment, and when the Holiday Creep launches Santa-themed end caps at Target in September I do a bit of an internal jolly elf happy dance. The holidays are my jam.

Now that I am all moved into my new place, I was SO EXCITED to start decorating just in time for the holidays! Since the kids and I were traveling over Thanksgiving week, we decorated the week before Thanksgiving. Horrifyingly delightful, amiright? At this point you either want to shoot me or grab my hands jumping around in circles squeee-ing with me. You know what side of that line you fall.

But I think we did a great job. I found the absolute cheapest artificial tree at Target on my divorced-single-income-mom-on-a-shoestring-budget budget, and after the kids took turns breaking hanging up their ornaments, I think it came together quite nicely!

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Hulk and I agreed that I would have the kids Christmas Eve and bring them to his house on Christmas Day, so I wrote to Santa and let him know that we would be at Mommy’s House this year.

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I also found this festive bouquet at Trader Joe’s last night. Always buy yourself flowers. That’s a Melissa Hartwig mandate for ya.

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So I think we’re all set for Santa! Oh, and I am re-re-starting my Couch to 5k program. The other day I treadmilled. Really. I know, who am I?

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Always cover up the console, otherwise you’ll know how little and how slowly you really ran.

But I really want to get back into running again. It’s the easiest way for me to experience sweat therapy, doesn’t cost me anything, and with the apartment gym just across from my unit I can even treadmill when the weather’s lousy.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!

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Moments of Happy

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you have a productive week in store for you!

The other morning I was at my usual Starbucks stop, and after the barista handed me my coffee-black-like-my-soul-with-a-few-ice-cubes-for-chugging-temperature order, I took my first sip and had THAT moment. I noticed that this is one of my most favorite parts of my day, that first sip of coffee. It’s sink back and sigh good. It’s the moment when the world stops good.

So of course I Instagrammed it.

And I noticed how there are some dependable moments in life where time just seems to stop as we take in the happy that is in front of us. I started mentally logging some of these instances so I could start anticipating them:

  • The first sip of my coffee in the morning
  • Looking up in the late fall sky in the evening to see a gorgeous sunset that’s all golden with those pink and purple clouds
  • Maxing out on a lift I haven’t worked on in weeks
  • That part in my morning routine when my 3-year-old daughter just rolls out of bed and needs me to hold her for a few minutes until she’s fully awake and ready to put her day under siege
  • When my favorite song comes on my playlist and no one’s around so I can jam and sing loudly and poorly to it
  • When I’m on a run and it’s been a while and my body is fully warmed up and ready to go, and I feel like I’m flying
  • Watching my kids giggle and wrestle with each other like little bear cubs on my bed, while I toss pillows and blankets on them
  • Curling up in bed with my tea and my book at the end of the day

I’m starting to call these my “Moments of Happy.” They don’t all happen every day, but I try to plan on having at least a couple Moments of Happy in my everyday routine. And if I don’t have one, I start figuring out how to cultivate it. Sometimes it’s the anticipation of a good Moment of Happy that encourages me to pull out of bed in the morning. Or sometimes that Moment of Happy is just lounging in bed a few more minutes, with the knowledge that on this particular morning I don’t have any urgent tasks that I need to jump on yet!

What kind of Moments of Happy do you notice in your day?

Go make it a great day!

The New Fitness

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I’ve been rather introspective lately, which I figure is a natural side effect of doing a lot of self-work and spirituality seeking. My “Emily’s Deep Thoughts” posts seem to slowly be outnumbering the ones that contain what I ate for lunch and my latest run stats. At first this bothered me a lot, and I just didn’t want to post anything. I wanted to keep my “la la la, off to the gym, hey look, frittata for dinner!” content rolling but my personal life wasn’t in alignment with what I wanted my blog life to be. Sick of fighting with myself, I stuck to Instagram mini-blogging where it seemed easier to throw some stuff out there but not be too committed to a thought.

But I still felt bothered. I didn’t want to abandon my blog, but I didn’t know how to work it into what I felt like writing about. My whole paradigm of health and healthy living had been shifting, and I didn’t know how to address it. Part of it was because I keep looking to the outside for guidance – what are the other health/fitness bloggers doing? Oh man, I don’t have abs yet, so I can’t do it that way. Does … does she ever wear pants? Or even own pants? Wow, that’s a lot of green juice. And so. Many. Gym. Selfies. Wait, that was my account. But gym selfies of actually working out, not just in the mirror. Workout selfies? How do you even do that?!?

What I was trying to do just wasn’t working for me. I wanted to jump on the train of filming myself working out, coming up with inspiring recipes, and taking lots of mirror selfies of my non-existent muscle definition, which isn’t what I do. It really isn’t ever what I did.

What do I do? I listen to my body and try to give it what it needs. I work to heal my emotional wounds of the past and break myself free of the numbing, survival-based behaviors that no longer serve me. I remind myself constantly that I am love, and I give love, and try to be kind and respectful to all I encounter. And I eat well, go to the gym, take long beach rambles, and do what I can when I can. I am never perfect, and I no longer want to punish myself for doing anything but the best I can at the time. And I feel really, really happy.

To me, this is healthy. This is fitness. Take what you like, leave the rest, and always work in your own values and authenticity. And it’s not sexy. It’s not marketable, and it doesn’t engage people to click. But aren’t our newsfeeds filled up enough with pretty, empty images designed to make us feel not enough so we’ll buy whatever they’re selling?

I’m ready to rock a new road. A road that leads to a healthy, fulfilled life that’s full to the brim with love and experience. A road that says I am already enough, and all of this is just to celebrate all the things I can still do, for the fun and curiosity of it. I remember working out with the Girls Gone WOD group in Costa Rica, and realizing during the EmPack workout how much I love movement. We were sprinting up a hill with weighted duffel bags, something that would normally have me groaning and faking an injury to get out of it. But in that moment the experience was something else entirely. It wasn’t there to train therefore required to achieve and get better, it wasn’t because I ate a donut yesterday and I needed to do penance for my dietary sins, it was moving because it feels good and is good for me. Oh, and it was so, so much fun! One of the best times I’ve had in my life. I want more of that in my life.

Let’s make this the new fitness normal. No more restrictive diets and pills and powders that promise a sculpted body and almost certainly deliver an empty heart. Let’s do more of what makes us feel good, instead of look good. We are whole creatures that deserve wellness at all levels, not just our earth suits. Let’s be mindful of our fitness journey on the inside as well as the out.

Go make it a great day

Don’t Consume – Create!

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p/c Pinterest

The other morning I sat on my bed and scrolled through Instagram for an hour. Yes, an hour. An hour I didn’t really have to spare, of course. I know it was a whole hour because at one point I looked at the clock and it was 5:30 am and when I looked up again it was 6:30 am. And aren’t I the one always complaining how I never have enough time? And when I checked in with myself and how I felt, I found that while I intended to be inspired and energized by taking a peek at what my friends and social media girl crushes are up to, I found myself feeling behind the game and flat. This was not the way I had intended on tackling my day.

With everything happening with my life lately, I’ve tried to be hyper-conscious of my attempts to numb or hide from things, so I don’t start down that slow slide to depression and isolation I know I have a tendency to head towards. I cut back on alcohol, I try to stay checked in with family and friends, and I try to read instead of watch TV. But I am catching myself more and more picking up my phone and gravitating to my social media apps when I feel uncomfortable, anxious, or bored. And I end up feeling sort of icky with all of the media consumption this results in. Politics, scandals, and social unrest leave me feeling helpless and confused, and I’m forever in a state of processing what I just absorbed. Don’t I have enough going on mentally and emotionally to be voluntarily jumping in the game of “What Facebook Memes Will Piss Me Off Today?” roulette? There’s being informed, and then there’s bingeing on Buzzfeed articles from amusing Pinterest posts. Time to find where that line is.

So for this month, I decided to set my absorption of social media aside, and instead focus more on creating content instead of consuming it. I internally lament all the time that I never have time to blog and write. Well, with hours spent mindlessly scrolling Facebook every day, imagine how much I could get out there if I used that time to put out my own content instead? This is the season of giving, right? So for me, I’m going to use it to give my voice instead of lurking in the background of online connection. Don’t consume – create!

Go make it a great day!

Awesomely Average

For some reason, I’ve been fearful of writing lately. After some refection, I think I understand why. The fear comes from perfectionism. Not that I’ll fail, but that I won’t be perfect. Exceptional. That I’ll end up in the dreaded average. Who wants to be average? I either want to be amazingly inspiring, or so horrendously ill equipped that my cautionary story of How I Attempted Exceptional and Failed Spectacularly is a source of future amusement. Does it really need to be one or the other? I used to say, “epic good, or epic fail!” in jest, but now it’s become more of a life motto than an amusing meme. What is up with my avoidance of Average? So far all it’s doing is preventing me from living life and doing what I enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with average. It’s comfortably in the middle. It’s unassuming. It’s where the power can lie in wait, recharging for the next surge. Average gets stuff done. It’s still progress. Average sets the standard. As David Letterman said, C’s still get degrees.

Our culture wants to reward the overachievers, the “greatests,” because they’re an inspiring story. And it’s super fun to be the winner on top of their game. Everybody loves a winner, and the prizes are fabled to  be great, even if the prize is “Congratulations! More work!” But the average is also rewarded – with lack of resistance. You just move forward to the next step. If I’m an average parent, my kids still grow up right. If I’m an average employee, I am likely to keep my job. If I’m an average powerlifter, I can still move and lift heavy-ish things. Average can still keep me moving forward without all of the effort and stress Exceptional requires.

Of course I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. But average isn’t a rut if it’s just a place I’m hanging out in for a while as I catch my breath and my bearings. Nor is it complacent; eventually I’ll get bored of Average and want a challenge. And then Exceptional will take the stage, and we do the dance again.

Average. Moving things progressively forward since the first caveman looked at his cave painting and said, “Meh, good enough.”

On Owning Life Decisions

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (and you totally should, because sometimes I post unicorns) you know that last week I started a Whole30. I had been W30’ing and posting on it for six days, but now I have a confession to make … I had beer the other night. Not one, but two beers. It was a conscious choice I deliberated prior to and at the event, and I decided to go for it. And in my opinion it was deliciously and soul-fully worth it, despite the heartburn, crummy sleep, and rough morning after. I enjoyed the experience with a new friend, and we had a great time. I felt the situation called for it, so I allowed myself to make whatever choice I felt was appropriate.

Normally if I “quit” a Whole30, that’s it. I dive-bomb back into whatever my diet was before I started. But this time, I picked right back up where I left off the next morning, getting up early to make an egg scramble and pack a tuna salad for lunch. Because to me the process of getting my lifestyle and habits overhauled to embrace healthier food choices for myself matter more than giving into the “What the Hell” effect described in the “Food Freedom Forever” book, as in “what the hell, I’m eating this so I might as well eat all the things and go down in flames of glory,” which is so tempting. But I’m not tempted.

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I know, right?

Now, I’m not too proud of going off-plan. Let me just make that clear. But what I am proud of is that it was a conscious choice, I don’t feel bad about myself, and my only regret is that I chose to make this Whole30 so public on my Instagram, only to “lol just kidding” six days in. Kind of awkward. But I am picking up where I left off, and I’m back on plan. This is a huge leap of difference between old Emily and new Emily. Old Emily would throw in the towel, fully succumb to the “What the Hell” effect (as in, what the hell, I might as well also have pizza and top it off with some Safeway sheet cake … and go for my usual Starbucks breakfast sandwich and coffee with creamer tomorrow morning for breakfast because whoops I’m done oh well) and it would be several weeks before I finally emerged from my nutritional off-roading glory to crawl back to the program, confess to my dietary sins, and try again. Oh, and feel terrible and beat myself up for “why can’t you just be healthy!?!? What is wrong with you?”

So, new Emily has come to realize that this is a journey, and what’s a road trip without a few pit stops along the way? Sometimes the detour to see Carhenge is appropriate (I mean, it’s a Stonehenge replica made entirely out of cars can you not even) even if it sets you back a bit both time and budget-wise. Or maybe not. But you need to own the decision. If I had planned ahead of time to have seltzer with lime, got to the bar, and threw it all out for a beer, that would be different. That was not a conscious, deliberate decision. That is old Emily behavior. New Emily considered the options ahead of time, and decided to evaluate in the moment. And then in the moment, evaluated the options again and concluded that this would be okay. It is not sticking to the Whole30, I am not following the program in that moment, but for me personally it is okay.  And you know what? I’m still a good person at the end of the day. Well, okay, some folks might beg to differ, but my dietary choices have no affect on my morality and self-worth. And that is something that it’s taken me the better part of two decades to figure out.

I have a couple other social opportunities this week where I’ll have to make a decision whether to stick to the Whole30 plan or not, because I’ll be at a party or at a restaurant and temptation to stray will be there. But for these situations, I’ve predetermined that no, going off-plan will not serve me, and I’m making arrangements to stick to the program, such as suggesting to my friends to cook a meal at their apartment instead of going out (I offered to grill steak for them, so I’ll still be popular don’t worry), and looking at the restaurant menu ahead of time to figure out how much I will be able to make work and bringing some snacks to supplement. This is not hard, it just takes a little planning an experience.

The takeaway is sometimes plans and intentions change, but instead of regretting and berating yourself for “not being more disciplined” or “I just have no willpower,” own your choices, take the results with grace and compassion, and go on to enjoy the rest of your life.

Am I perfect? Nope. Will every off-road decision be made with this amount of contemplation and contentment of the results? Most definitely not. I’m sure at some point there will be some regretful break-room-donuts or home-alone-beer-and-nachos decisions that were more automatic than mindful. But it’s about progress, and the best kind of self-care is when you can celebrate the wins.

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And homemade chicken curry, because OMG so good.

I hope you are having a fabulous morning. Go make it a great day!

 

Rough Week

It’s been a bit of a rough week over here. Life stuff is rolling along smoothly as usual, but the news lately has been wretched. Along with the National stories of horror (eff you too, all news from Florida) I’ve found out quite a few people have passed away recently. Some I knew personally, some were family and friends of friends, and some were community leaders who inspired me. Then the Warriors lost game 6 of the playoffs. The bad news just kept rolling in all week.

So when I woke up before my alarm this morning, I knew a bit of self care was in order before I headed to work. I knocked off a session of Headspace meditation, then once I saw what a beautiful, sunny day it was, I took Olive to our favorite trail.

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I started writing a bit more about my thoughts on this week’s events, but it got super deep and woo-ish super fast, so we’ll keep it light by saying it’s the weekend, yay! Let’s go out and do cool stuff. Play a game, get dirty, laugh hard. Ponder life’s mysteries, give really good hugs, and frolic. Live life the way it was meant to be lived. That’s the best legacy and memory we can make for anyone. And go make it a great day.

The Best Kind of Adventure

Greetings, blog world!

I’m still not sure what to write about, but I really want to keep posting and not let this blog drift away. Things keep happening that are milestones I want to document for the sake of record-keeping, like how Buttercup is crawling all over the place and how she stood up by herself in her crib last night. Stop growing. Just stop.

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She’s a lumberjack, and she’s okay.

Meanwhile Squish just spent a week up in Tahoe over the 4th with some family friends. He basically partied with the other kids until he dropped, lather, rinse, repeat.

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And I’m over here realizing that just because I’m not cooking health-blog-worthy meals right now (I use the term “cooking” very loosely here) or working on killing my half marathon PR doesn’t mean I can’t blog. I use this space to document my health journey, and that journey can sometimes make detours too, and that’s okay. Last post I lamented about trying to find time to squeeze in all the things. I was focusing so much on what I’m not doing that I failed to see all that I am doing – tons and tons of self work. Journaling, meditation, talking to close friends and family, and personal reflection do take up quite a bit of time, and I realized that this is where my time has been lately. The specifics are a little personal to talk about on the blog right now, but I hope you understand that it’s a work in progress and once I figure things out I’ll probably have a nice little “lessons learned” write up someday.

So this place might get a little w00-woo as I sort out the (ugh) feelings and stuff. I’m not a big “feelings” person you may have noticed. But that may change. Anything can change. I’ll keep on rocking my little road over here. If you want to hang in for the ride, you’re more than welcome to. It’s quite the adventure as I have no idea where I’m going or how I’ll get there. Which is really the best kind of adventure.

Go make it a great day!

A First-Timer’s Experience at Massage Envy Spa

In all fairness, I’m pretty horrible at self-care. I know what I should do, but I usually ignore all of that preventative maintenance stuff. Stretching after a run? Who has time for that? My hamstring’s bothering me again, but I’ll just walk it off instead of breaking out my therapy ball and doing some rolling. I’m not even a very good flosser. But a couple of the things I keep meaning to do a better job lately of is getting routine massages and doing a better job of my skin care routine. Fortunately, my friends at Massage Envy Spa seemed to telepathically know that I really needed to get a good prenatal massage and facial in before Baby v2.0 makes her arrival, so they offered me an opportunity to check out their massage and facial services. I had not been to a Massage Envy Spa before, but my sister is a member and has only had good things to say about it. And she’s right; my first experience was fabulous and I can’t wait to go again!

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Oh, and before you get all wowed by my sudden improvement in photography, I didn’t take any pictures during my visit. It felt weird. So these are some photos from the Massage Envy Spa website.

Setting up my appointment was easy. You go online to massageenvy.com, find a convenient location near you, and fill out the appointment request form. At least, that’s how I did it. They called me back promptly to confirm the date, time, and services I requested. I had originally scheduled my massage for Saturday afternoon, but then Hulk and I had a major “I thought you were watching Squish” moment when we realized we had both booked non-preschooler activities for ourselves on Saturday. So I called them Friday to reschedule, and they were able to move my appointment to Sunday evening no problem. Which turned out to be a brilliant move, really. I am always booking my massage appointments Sunday night so I can just fall into bed and tackle Monday morning stress-free and well-rested!

My appointment-booker-person advised me to come a few minutes early so I could fill out the first-timer paperwork. I was getting a prenatal massage and facial, so I filled out a couple of quick forms with some brief medical and skincare history, what’s been bothering me, what I’m looking to get out of my service, and other good stuff for my therapists to know. I was pleased with the attentiveness of the staff. They offered me a glass of water and a trip to the restroom before I was introduced to my therapist and escorted to the treatment room. We chatted briefly about the paperwork notes I had completed and what I was looking to focus on (my crunchy computer muscles in my arms and shoulders) and then it was down to business.

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The Nap, I mean, Treatment Room

The treatment room was just right. The lighting was dim, they were playing some soothing music, and the temperature was cool enough where I wasn’t sweating like crazy but the warm table and blankets made me quite comfortable. For prenatal massage, there is a couple of ways I’ve done it. One is with a special table with a cut-out for the belly in the middle, but I’ve only had that done once. The way most places do it that don’t have the belly-cut-out table is for you to lie on one side with pillows to bolster you up. Since I’m a huge neck-and-shoulder massage junkie, I actually prefer this to the belly table. I feel like they can really get in and do things one side at a time, and sometimes the belly table is made for normal size humans and not petite little 5’0″ me, so it was quite comfortable. That hour was over with much too quickly, let me tell you.

After my massage I was offered another glass of water (yay hydration! I was getting parched) and then my facial therapist came in. He and I chatted about my skincare routine, what I was looking for in my treatment, and told me what treatment he was going to provide for me. We skipped the facial peel, since it contains some stuff that’s not good for pregnant women to use, but we did the rest of the Environmental Shield Vitamin C product line facial, which is great since that’s the skin care routine I’ve been using. Now, I never get facials. I’ve had one in my life, and that was several years ago off a Groupon. So I have not much to compare it to. And normally I have pretty great skin, so it never occurs to me to seek out facials as part of my usual routine (he kept telling me “your skin is like butter!” which made my day). So after the series of steaming, gooping stuff on, wiping it off, gooping really nice-smelly stuff on, wiping it off, wrapping my face in warm towels, doing a bit of “extraction” on my nose, and gooping more stuff on I really didn’t know what to expect. But holy wow, if my skin was like butter before, it was like silk now. I couldn’t believe how soft it was! I was absolutely glowing. And I wish I took a picture of my massage/facial hair. It’s like bed head with a glow.

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Kinda like this, only not as cute.

After a final glass of water, I thanked my therapists and checked out, in a floaty cloud of post-pampering dazed bliss. Good thing I only had a block to walk to get home. And as I mentioned before, getting my treatments done on a Sunday night was brilliant. I floated home and right to bed, with my stress level back to a reasonable baseline and all of my achy spots relieved, ready to tackle the week.

The moral of the story? Be kind to yourself and get a spa day booked.

Disclosure: My treatments were provided to me free of charge by Massage Envy Spa. All opinions are my own.

San Francisco Ultimate Women’s Expo Recap

I am really excited about this post! It’s my first real “blogger review!” Hey, I’m a real blogger now!

A few weeks back, I was contacted by Massage Envy Spa with an invitation to the San Francisco Ultimate Women’s Expo to check out the event and hang out at the Massage Envy Spa booth. You mean you want me to spend an afternoon shopping exhibits, snacking on free samples of delectables, AND get a free massage? Um, okay!

So on Sunday my friend Katie and I headed to the San Bruno Convention Center to attend the Expo. Or as I started to refer to it as, the Weekend Shopstravaganza of Awesomeness.

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Thanks to my Massage Envy Spa “guest” status, we were snuck into the venue right before the doors opened so we could quickly scoop the loop and check out all of the exhibits before the doors opened and unleashed a tidal wave of estrogen-infused fury.

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While the other, more responsible bloggers were probably taking pristine pictures of the other exhibits and making them all artistic and stuff, I’m noticing things like, “how cool, they changed one of the men’s rooms to a women’s room because there are, like, 900% more women at this event then men!”

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That’s thinking ahead, kids. What can I say; I’m eight months pregnant and can appreciate proactive restroom placement.

I digress. After perusing some of the booths, I headed to the Massage Envy Spa booth, which was I think the most popular exhibit in the entire event. They were giving free massages and skin care assessments. So awesome.

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My fellow blogger Amber and I were greeted and invited to get our skin assessed. I got to stick my head in this space age-y box with some sort of blacklight or something in it.

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The light displays all sorts of features on your face that natural light hides, like skin thickness/delicacy and age spots from sun damage. I have light freckles that stand out more when I’ve been in the sun, but it was freaky to see how under the special light my entire face is blasted with these dark marks. I also have delicate skin around my eyes, but the skin around my mouth is pretty think and robust. They wrote down the notes of the exam and made a product recommendation based on the Murad skin care line.

Massage Envy Spa offers several lines of Murad skin care formulas to individualize your unique skin care needs. Since my skin is showing all of that potential sun damage, I went with the Environmental Shield Vitamin C treatment line. I received a complimentary kit to try out, so in a couple weeks of use I’ll let you know how I like it. So far, I love the fragrance – it’s citrusy and so fresh, and I only have to apply a small amount to get what I need out of it. More on the Murad Environment Shield Healthy Skin Regiment Kit to come!

After our skin assessments, we were treated to a massage. It took them a few minutes to find a prenatal-certified therapist that was free, but oh man was she worth the wait. She went to town on my “mousing muscles” in my right shoulder. What can I say, I work on computers for a living. I really need to do more massage; I was totally floating on that “massage high” for a good hour afterwords.

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My post-massage goober face, with Terry from Massage Envy and Amber.

Then I headed back out to the expo to make impulsive purchases fueled by my massage coma.

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New running shoe twinsies! We scored some discounted “slightly loved” shoes at the Road Runner’s booth. I am going to love these new-to-me Saucony Hurricanes once I’m ready to hit the road again. I told Katie that she is now obligated as my shoe twinsie to help get me back into shape after baby.

That was the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Thanks again to Massage Envy Spa and the San Francisco Ultimate Women’s Expo for putting on such a great event! I hope to be back next year (most likely with a small human in tow).

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Oh, I may have taken a celebrity shot with Wendy Williams. Or, a gigantic cardboard cutout of Wendy Williams. Is she that tall in real life?

Disclaimer: I was provided my entrance to the San Francisco Ultimate Women’s Expo and products for review by Massage Envy Spa. All opinions are my own.